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US patent application
Application Process Overview
nonprovisional, Utility Patent Application process generally consists
searching for prior-art,
a patentability opinion, applying
for a patent, and prosecuting the application
until the patent is awarded. See our illustrated interactive flowchart
of the patent process for more details. If you are interested in
a Provisional Patent Application please read our Provisional
Application web page. To answer many questions you may have, it
may be helpful to review our A
Utility Patent Decision Help Guide, FAQ
on Patents, basic
Patent information, and our overview of the Utility
Patent Application practice.
do a patentability search
light of a seminal court decision referred to as Festo,
it is now practically mandatory to do an extensive prior-art patentability
search to ensure that your patent will have maximal scope through an
important legal mechanism known as the Doctrine
of Equivalence. Before you have your patent application prepared,
we strongly urge you to have a patent prior-art search and patentability
opinion done by a professional. For more details, please review
Area IP’s patent practice
Area Intellectual Property Group (Bay Area IP) is a highly competitive
firm whose patent practice has a great depth and breadth of experience.
This experience drives our holistic approach that not only achieves
high patent quality,
but also efficiently delivers a high quality of service. We strive
for a 4 week turnaround time for average patent application drafts,
and usually can rush a job to meet a bar
date depending on our workload.
Bay Area IP, we are particularly adept in employing the wide array of
patent prosecution procedures sometimes necessary to attain an awarded
patent. Typical procedures used, for example, include protests, appeals,
and petitions. Bay Area IP has experience in drafting and/or prosecuting
patent applications in a wide variety of areas including computer software,
electronics hardware, semiconductor packaging, and semiconductor processing.
We are continually broadening our technical expertise to better serve
you, and reduce your cost. As an incentive, we offer a special commitment
to you that we will not charge you for time we spend, if any, learning
the prior-art technology to understand your invention. Many firms will
bill you for their “education time” by obscuring it in patent preparation
or client meeting time. Usually, patent
attorneys spend most of their learning time on the first patent
application, and learning time diminishes quickly thereafter because
inventions tend to be incremental improvements in the same technology
is generally accepted that the specification and claims of a patent
constitute one of the most difficult legal instruments to draft with
accuracy. The critical areas where problems often occur are in understanding
/appreciation of the invention, drafting/prosecuting the application,
and in claim interpretation by the courts. One of Bay Area IP’s key
advantages is that a seasoned scientist, engineer, and inventor will
draft and prosecute your patent application to ensure that your invention
is accurately defined and claimed. Beyond solid specification and claims
drafting skills, a strong technological grasp of the invention and prior-art
is also imperative to achieving maximal claim scope and minimal patent
contamination, which contamination weakens the patent in litigation.
Unfortunately, even what was a well-written patent yesterday may loose
much of its value after an unfavorable precedence set by a new court
decision. That is why Bay Area IP continually analyzes and assesses
recent legal decisions to design an optimal patent practice. We also
keep a close eye on major court cases in-progress and may preemptively
adjust our patent practice to hedge against potential changes in law.
Bay Area IP actively engages its assets and time in all of these critical
areas to maximize the value of your awarded patent.
also believe in educating you in plain English about legal or practical
issues that require an opportunity-cost decision in our patent practice.
The standard practice at many, if not most, other firms is for the patent
attorney to make all the decisions for you, and this is our default
practice as well; however, for those clients that desire a more personalized
service and tighter control of their patent’s risk-reward profile, Bay
Area IP will explain to you the issues, recommend a course of action,
and execute your final will.
ways to save money when patenting
Bay Area IP we make every attempt to minimize your costs. Unlike many
IP firms in the industry, we understand that when we lower your cost
to acquire a patent, you are more likely to come back to us to patent
your new inventions. Generally speaking, you save money to the extent
you do work that reduces our time spent on your case. The simplest
way our clients save money is to do the following:
Prepare a very detailed description of your invention, drawing,
Do your own prior-art
prior-art search helps us write the claims
sections of the application more efficiently and effectively.
patent application money saving options available
are several other money saving and/or cost containment options that
you may take advantage of in any combination. They are as follows:
Flat-rate patent application drafting service
a maximum not to exceed fee amount
You write we perfect
You do the drawings we perfect
patent application drafting service
inventions of simple and average complexity
are eligible for our flat-fee
cost containment offer if the effort required for us to draft a patent
application for your invention is highly predictable. Bay Area IP can
work on a flat-fee basis if your case meets some very specific conditions,
which are as follows:
The invention is not too complex.
invention is well defined and of a nature that lends itself to a very
predictable level of complexity.
must provide a highly detailed disclosure of the invention according
to our instructions.
must agree on a fixed level of complexity
prior to drafting the application, which complexity
level is based on your initial disclosure (e.g., cannot substantially
change alternative embodiments, invention description, claim scope,
Here for information to help you decide if
the Flat-fee approach is right for you. To find out definitively
if your case is eligible for our flat-fee cost structure, follow the
instructions in our get
started page web page.
maximum “not to exceed” patent application fee amount
Bay Area IP can accept you as a client, after the reception of a detailed
description of the invention, including any drawings, Bay Area IP can
provide you with a written price
estimate for the services you will need. The estimate quoted is
close to the final cost incurred in almost all cases. There are some
exceptional cases where unforeseen complexity
or client changes from the initial disclosure will drive up costs somewhat
beyond the estimate. However, we appreciate that some clients are particularly
cost-sensitive and require extra level of predictability. Although,
we will contact you with detailed information as soon as we expect the
estimate to be exceeded, the client may wish to negotiate with the firm
a maximum “not to exceed” fee amount. With this fee set in writing
in advance of preparing the patent application, we can manage the complexity
of the application such that it does not exceed the amount agreed upon
write we perfect the patent application
Here for information to help you decide if
the Flat-fee approach is right for you.
patent firms in the industry do not accept, or at least are extremely
reluctant to work from, a client’s first draft of the specification.
The reason for a patent
attorney to avoid this is very understandable. That is, it is not
possible to estimate with reasonable accuracy, in advance, how much
time the client’s draft will save the attorney, as the client’s draft
may not be usable, or only partially so, in preparing the final application.
It often turns out to be more time consuming for us to perfect the client’s
draft than if we had prepared it from scratch. This is increasingly
true because the current trend in case
law is placing more “land mines” than ever throughout the patent
specification and claims. In addition to the multitude of legal constraints
on drafting an optimal application, there are many stylistic considerations
that improve the chance the patent examiner will favorably review the
application. In total, there are a vast number of flaws, often obscure
and time consuming to find, that a draft application may have. It is
for at least this reason that it may cost as much to arrive at an estimated
cost to fix a client’s draft application than it would cost to prepare
an application from scratch.
it is not always the case that a client’s draft saves little or nothing
in final patent application costs. Some clients have significant experience
in applying for patents combined with good technical writing skills
to produce a very useful document. In such cases, it is possible for
the client to save thousands of dollars in patent application costs.
In general, this high level of technical writing skill, or anything
close to it, will not be the norm for most clients providing
a first draft. Most clients should regard submitting any documentation
of their invention as constructive information that assists the patent
attorney to do a better job. As with any creation, the more time
spent in perfecting it the higher the quality.
Yet, in general, to keep patent application costs at an affordable level
patent attorneys cannot spend unlimited time perfecting an application,
but must spread their fixed time budget over the whole application.
If the client provides a better quality
disclosure, however, their patent attorney can instead spend more time
on perfecting legal details and less time on technical writing and figuring
out, or describing, how the invention works. Hence, the more detailed
and well organized your disclosure is the higher the quality
level the patent attorney can achieve in the final draft. For this
reason, it is always in the client’s interest to submit a high quality,
computer readable disclosure that better gathers and organizes the information
the patent application requires, such as, a detailed description of
the invention and the most relevant background prior-art information.
to increase the volume of patents you apply for the firm extends a unique
offer that we will consider working from a first draft that you submit.
As discussed in the above paragraphs, it is generally not possible to
give you an estimate of how much time, if any, your draft will
save us. To give you the best chance of submitting something usable
we will provide you a guideline including basic tips to writing your
draft. The first draft you provide will only be used for the specification
and not the claims of the application. Again, as discussed in
the previous paragraphs, we cannot offer any guarantee that an actual
cost reduction will be realized; however, we will make a good faith
effort to leverage your draft on a best-efforts basis. You can save
anywhere from zero to thousands depending on the quality
of your draft. As an added service, we provide you some basic feedback
so that you can make a more useful draft the next time. The key concept
to understand here is that in any case your draft will only help you.
That is, in all three possible cases you win, which cases are as follows:
1. Your specification draft is useable and reduces
our preparation time up to 50%.
Result: you save up to 50% off our
standard patent application fee, but might have a patent of average
2. Your specification draft is useable and reduces
our preparation time up to 50%, but you request that we use the
saved time towards perfecting the application.
Result: you pay the normal patent application
fee, but your patent, if awarded, will be of higher quality.
3. Your specification draft is not a useable draft
and does not significantly reduce our preparation time.
Result: Although it may not have saved
drafting time the added information will likely increase the quality
of the patent if awarded.
you have the time and believe that your technical writing skills applied
under our general instruction can produce usable quality material, then
maybe this option is for you. For more information contact us for a
initial consultation to get started.
do the patent drawings we perfect
US patent office (USPTO) has formal
requirements that submitted drawings must satisfy for the USPTO
to accept them. Bay Area IP, like most IP firms, will produce
formal drawings based on your informal drawings, or sketches, of
the invention. However, few, if any, firms will consider applying client-made
drawings towards satisfying the USPTO drawing requirements. However,
Bay Area IP offers you another way to lower your patent application
cost. If you can produce drawings that satisfy the USPTO formal
drawing requirements, then we will only charge a minimal review
fee instead of the normal per page formal
drawing fee. However, if the drawings you submit are not in condition
for submission as formal drawings to the USPTO, we will charge an hourly
fee to correct the defects. The USPTO
formal drawing requirements are strait forward and we can fix most
simple defects quickly, usually at an overall savings to you. However,
in no case will the cost for us to fix your defective drawing exceed
our standard per page formal
Patent Cost Estimate
a significant degree, the quality
and cost of a patent
application is under your control. The equation is simple, the
more detailed and organized your invention disclosure is, the more
efficiently we can prepare an accurate and comprehensive application.
To the extent your technical writing skills bring your invention
disclosure close to acceptable patent language and substance, we can
spend less time drafting the final application. Bay Area IP can provide
you with a written price estimate for the services you will need.
Area IP will provide you with and estimated cost quote for the services
we believe you will need based on your detailed invention disclosure.
The estimate given is valid as long as the initial assumptions have
not changed. It should be noted that you can deduct the time we spend
preparing your provisional application from the time estimate given
to draft the corresponding Utility application.
your case does not qualify for our flat-fee offer,
we will quote you an estimate based the industry standard hourly billing
approach. Ninety percent of the time, our clients will observe a
cost at or below the estimated cost provided. Although the
cost of each case is determined individually, based on experience,
our cost estimates tend to fall into a few general cost/complexity
categories as follows.
some firms, we do not play marketing games in our pricing strategy.
Some firms charge extremely low fees to draft/file the patent application,
but pad their prosecution bills to recover there discounting and make
above market profits. Instead, Bay Area IP keeps
its overhead low so we can pass these savings on to you in the
form of below market total cost, while providing you top quality service
and work product. Other firms play a sort of ‘bait-and-switch’ tactic
where they advertise their “simplest case”, or “minimum fee”, estimate,
and charge you substantially higher fees as you discover your case
was not simple enough to qualify. In contrast, Bay Area IP shows
you a detailed breakout of typical or flat-fee costs for many levels
thereby giving you significantly more predictability of what your
true cost will be, even before you ever contact us.
cost to procure and maintain an awarded patent comprises the following
should always get a written cost estimate from the patent firm you
are considering. If they will not give you one, then you likely cannot
afford there services. We provide inventors with a written, good
faith price-estimate quotation several pages long that lists the costs
of (a) preparing and filing a (non-)provisional application, (b) preparing
responses to up to two Office Actions (rejections) on the Merits,
and (c) issue fee costs. This quote can give you an overall idea
of the total costs involved, and how they are spread over time.
14 months after filing your patent application, the USPTO examiner
will usually issue a preliminary patentability conclusion (usually
a rejection) referred to as an office action. Thereafter, during what
is call prosecution, your patent practitioner will prepare a response,
often referred to as an amendment, to the office action. The time
required to prepare the amendment largely depends on the complexity
of the subject matter and the strength of the examiners rejection.
Most of the time, during patent prosecution, our preparation and filing
of an office action responses cost between $300-1000. We forwarded
official actions to the client upon receipt, and include any comments
for the client’s consideration and provide an estimated cost to prepare
the response. The client then pays Bay Area IP a retainer in the
estimated amount, within sufficient time (no less than 30 days) before
the response is due.
application matures to issuance, we mail the client a notice and
the issue fee that is due. The client must pay the issue fee within
three months from the notice of allowance; otherwise, the application
must be revived at great cost.
issuance, maintenance fees become due at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and
11.5 years after the issuance date. The firm charges the client a
service fee at each renewal for notifying the client, paying the fee
when received, and confirming payment.
Patenting Budgets (including drawings,
filing, and issuance USPTO
Simple patent applications through issuance- about 2 years at
patent applications through issuance- about 2 years at $3,600
patent applications through issuance- about 2-3 years at $5,500
complex patent applications through issuance- about 3-4 years
†Actual costs incurred principally
depend on two aspects of the patent examination process:
- Examiner rejection veracity. NOTE:
Most patent applications are rejected at first; thus, applicants tend
to incur additional legal cost for amendments responding to examiner
Area IP can meet with you in-person within the San Francisco Bay Area
region, or otherwise remotely (inter)nationally. Of course, in-person
disclosure meetings are often preferred when practical; however, nearly
all cases are suitable for remote clients who can communicate via the
Internet, mail, and telephone. An exception might be, for example,
the very rare case where to understand the invention it is critical
to view a cumbersome prototype that cannot be shipped; that is, where
pictures and schematics of the invention are inadequate. For all other
cases, when working with a remote client it is generally sufficient
to have in advance common detailed, numbered diagrams, a detailed description,
and/or photos of the invention prior to the telephone and/or Internet
information on how to get started and to learn about our free
initial consultation offer go to our get
started page web page.